Hey Arnold: The Jungle Movie – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

Hey Arnold The Jungle Movie - Title Card
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Hey Arnold The Jungle Movie - Title Card

Who said you need fancy animation and an Oscar bait kind of story to make something as tear-inducing as Hey Arnold: The Jungle Movie?


Director(s) Stu Livingston and Raymie Muzquiz
Writer(s) Craig Bartlett, Joe Purdy, Laura Sreebny, and Justin Charlebois

Summary

It has been almost 10 years since Arnold has seen his parents and the longing for them is beginning to haunt his dreams. Making Mr. Simmons bringing up a possible class trip to the place they disappeared, San Lorenzo, almost like a sign from God. However, there ends up nothing being holy about the contest they had to win to get there. If only because it was orchestrated by Lasombra, a local thief of ancient treasures who vies for the Corazyn [Spelling is based off subtitles] – the treasure of the green-eyed people.

But, in order to get this treasure Arnold’s parents, Stella and Miles, have kept out of his hands, he must use Arnold to get what he wants. Which, between keeping his friends as prisoners and tricking Arnold repeatedly, it seems he’ll do whatever it takes to get what he wants. For the Corazyn is his white whale.

Other Noteworthy Facts & Moments

  • Arnold was in 5th grade and is in 6th grade at the end of the movie.

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. So what causes the sleeping curse?
  2. What caused Mr. Simmons to go nuts and then return to normal? Also, is he gay or just has a male roommate? Could it maybe be that his brother was the one who dropped him off at the airport?
  3. Are we really supposed to believe Abner, in less than 48 hours, was able to hitchhike all the way home to convey to grandma and grandpa Arnold was in trouble? I get this is a cartoon so you have to forget about realism but it still called for a raised eyebrow. Much less TSA not picking up a pig on an airplane.
  4. What exactly caused the explosion in Lasombra’s prison camp?
  5. How were the green-eyed children keeping themselves, and everyone else, alive?

Highlights

Roll Call

Going by Wikipedia, it has been 13 years since new episodes of Hey Arnold! have been produced. With that in mind, it isn’t hard to believe a lot of old fans may not remember who is who. Thankfully though, nearly everyone’s name was said repeatedly and we got enough reminders of the person’s unique characteristics to flare up old memories. Especially with the video package Helga, Gerald, and Phoebe made so the class could go to San Lorenzo. It made returning to these characters after 13 years much easier.

It Becomes a Very Emotional Story

Hey Arnold The Jungle Movie - Stella, Arnold, and Miles

Despite the aforementioned gap some of us may have between watching the show and viewing the movie, you pick up on the relationships, problematic or loving, quickly. Whether it is the relationships Arnold has with his grandparents or Gerald; Helga’s with her parents or sister, alongside Phoebe; and of course there are the romantic ones like Phoebe and Gerald and also Helga with Arnold. But where the emotional bits of the story come from has nothing really to deal with established characters. It is Arnold’s search for Stella and Miles.

Something he has been dreaming about and it seems as Arnold is approaching his teen years, it has left him with this huge gap in his chest. Making the moment when he finds his parents tear-inducing and especially when he finds a way to wake them up. I mean, call it corny, but their first words being “Hey Arnold” turned the waterworks on for me. And then with it seeming like that was a dream?! And when he saw them he touched them to see if they weren’t there like in the dream he had in the beginning of the movie? Oh, those scenes messed with my heart in ways I don’t think were kind to viewers.

The Movie Pushes You To Want The Series To Be Revived, If But For A Season or at Least One More Movie

With so many shows from the 00s and 90s being revived, the idea of Hey Arnold! coming back from the dead doesn’t sound horrible. Especially with the characters now entering middle school and Arnold’s parents in his life. And, granted, this could just be the nostalgia talking. But I would like to see the two sides of Helga meld into someone who seems deserving of Arnold’s love. Also, I would absolutely love to see Phoebe and Gerald have a full fledged relationship. Much less, see Stella and Miles as a couple, them bond with gramps and grandma, be parents to Arnold, and maybe even extend that to Helga. Giving her the chance to know what it is like to have loving parents.

On The Fence

A Grand Gesture To Make Up For All The Malice & Lasombra

The problem of a lot of shows having sequels or reviving when you get older is now you have more skepticism and question things. Also, you expect more. So with us not learning why Lasombra wanted the Corazyn, past money, it kind of made him an eye roll inducing villain. For now, you want to hear about him being impoverished and him selling local artifacts he how he got out of poverty. Or else some superiority thing where he believed the works of the people should be in museums rather than with savages. Maybe even, because of how bad the economy is, making places like where the Green Eyed People live become a tourist attraction. All of which I won’t pretend sound a bit eye-roll worthy, but it is the lack of a good enough motivation that it would have you threaten multiple children’s lives which bugs me.

But the other issue is Helga follows the usual grand romantic gesture formula to make up for the jerk she has been. And while you gotta admit, her helping Arnold find his parents probably tops anything you ever saw before, live action or animated, it doesn’t necessarily erase years of cruelty and how low-key creepy Helga is. I mean, her having a shrine to Arnold already was side-eye worthy but years worth of tapes? At that point, it went beyond elementary crush you could understand, especially considering her home life, to something that made you want to scream to Arnold that he was in danger!

For yeah, she is happy now that they are together, but can you imagine how bad that relationship will become now that she has what she wants? Especially if Arnold decides to make excuses for her and stays with her for years? And I know, while Nick is a bit more PG-13 than other networks which cater to the 18 and below market, they may not address Helga being possessive and some form of abusive. However, there have been articles written in depth why Helga and Arnold would make a terrible couple for years. So while this may give her a happy ending, it seems like a means to balance out Arnold after getting his grandest wish to come true.

Phoebe and Gerald

Am I the only one who wanted more out of these two? Gerald has been Arnold’s ride or die for years and I just wanted to see him really have more than just a moment with Phoebe. Maybe it is because Gerald is one of the handful of classic Black animated characters, of which I loved growing up. But, either way, I kind of feel like him and Phoebe got the short end of the stick.

Overall: Positive (Watch This)

Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie fulfills your nostalgic desires by bringing nearly the whole gang back together and giving us a sense of closure. Yet, at the same time, it brings up so many new avenues for the show to go down that it makes you hope between another movie, a mini-series styled revival, or just an outright full season order, it would really come back. Which, if you go by this article in the Independent [External], from 2015, it could be possible. Till then, enjoy what Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie gives us and keep your fingers crossed for something new in the future.

Stream or Buy: Here [External]

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How Would You Rate This?

Negative Mixed Positive

2 COMMENTS

  1. Not getting enough of the cure without the Corazon/Heart of Gold to power the, albeit primitive, food generating contraption that scatters the butterflies that caused the adults to fall asleep.
    It was established in “Arnold’s Thanksgiving” that, even though schoolteacher Mr. Simmons’ (first name, Robert) doting mother pushes for him to get with the despondent Joy who can’t seem to hold herself to a steady job & seems too dour for someone as chipper as Mr. Simmons, Mr. Simmons’ mother is ignorant of/oblivious to/in denial of the fact that her son is GAY.

    Not-so subtle proof comes in the form of his interactions with a mustachioed blond male guest named Peter, situated at the head of his Thanksgiving table (alongside his mother, the aforementioned Joy, and his Uncle Chuck, a large man dressed similarly to Cartman of South Park who let his stomach do all the talking, hence why Mr. Simmons perfectly cast the equally hefty & always “hangry” Harold in the role of Uncle Chuck for the P.S. 118 school play centered around the spirit of togetherness that Thanksgiving is supposed to foster as a national holiday), who seems to think Mr. Simmons’ mother, although well-meaning, is intruding in on her son’s life.

    For example, when Mr. Simmons’ mom asks him to take Joy to the ballet & Mr. Simmons brings his head in from the kitchen whilst cupping his hands in glee to respond, “Of course mother, I love the ballet”, Peter coughs loudly & raises a curt eyebrow in Mr. Simmons’ direction before nodding towards Mr. Simmons’ mother in a nonverbal cue, causing Mr. Simmons to retract his earlier excitement by quickly apologizing to his mother & coughing out, “I’m sorry mother, I’m booked.”

    Noticing the exchange between Peter & her son, Mr. Simmons’ mother rounds in on Peter, telling him that he seems to be doing a lot of deciding for her son, which further suggests that she’s either unaware of her son being GAY or is otherwise bypassing it in the hope that it’s just a “phase” her son is going through & that it’ll pass & that, eventually, he’ll turn out to be heterosexual like the majority of people (for after all, even many straight people do “experiment” with their sexuality in their younger years, yet Mr. Simmons clearly appears to be beyond that stage of his life, given how he’s presented as a happy, but already prematurely balding man, whereas most people during the “experimental” period tend to be young adults in their late teens/early 20’s, rather than older people [“cougars” excepting & I doubt Mr. Simmons is among that lot]).

    Of course, when Mr. Simmons’ mother questions how her son will know anything if he’s not allowed to grow past what’s been laid out for him (as if her son is still a young adult, when it is obvious he’s not), Peter swiftly chides in by telling her, “There’s a lot of things YOU don’t know”, which causes Mr. Simmons’ mother to stare blankly, mouth agape, before the two begin a full-blown argument & food begins flying.

    Meanwhile, during this whole messy altercation between his “good friend” Peter & his seemingly overprotective mother, Mr. Simmons scoots away to the kitchen to give a passionate heart-to-heart to a visiting Arnold & Helga who had each ditched their own unconventional or dysfunctional families in search of a traditional Thanksgiving, coming to the agreed conclusion that “If anyone’s having a good Thanksgiving, Mr. Simmons would”, seeing as how Mr. Simmons was using the names of his own friends & family as the characters in his school play about the spirit of togetherness that Thanksgiving is supposed to create, only to for the kids to come face-to-face with the realization hat Mr. Simmons’ family is no different than their own, even if he paints a picture of “the perfect family portrait” for the school’s Thanksgiving play.

    So, when we see Mr. Simmons get all fidgety around Peter, it’s because he’s GAY & he’s trying to keep it on the down-low because their relationship began before it was widely acceptable for LGBTQI people to be out & about without repercussions just for being who they are (and in smaller, more regionalized areas, particularly around the “Bible Belt” states, it’s still deemed reprehensible [read as: ethically immoral to the point of disgust & being denied certain rights] to be an out-and-out LGBTQI person, despite LGBTQI marriages being made Constitutionally legal 2 years ago & even shows aimed at children having it at the forefront; Uranus X Neptune on Sailor Moon, Glinda The Good Witch – nee Galinda Upland – and Elphaba “Elphie” Thropp as the so-called “Wicked Witch of the West” both depicted as bisexual, courtesy of their interactions with each other & Winkie prince Fiyero per the 1995 novel Wicked that, prior to its becoming the “popular…I know about popular” 2003 Broadway musical composed by Stephen Schwartz originally featuring Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda & Idina “Adele Dazeem” Menzel as Elphaba, was initially written by author Gregory MacGuire as a revisionist take on source creator L. Frank Baum’s OZ mythos as later envisioned in the 1939 musical classic with Judy Garland – formerly Frances Gumm – as female lead Dorothy Gale from Metro Goldwyn Meyer – shortened to M.G.M – studios by retelling the story from the perspective of the villain now re-assessed as a misunderstood tragic figure, Princess Bubblegum & vampiress Marceline each implied to have dated the other before meeting Finn the human on Adventure Time, the gems of Steven Universe being lesbian – outside of mother figure Rose Quartz, who formerly dated Pearl before getting with Greg Universe to give birth to Steven, making Rose Quartz herself bisexual – Avatar Korra & Equalist governor’s daughter Asami Soto being bisexuals who ultimately ended up lesbian due to each of them dating Mako before getting with each other for The Legend of Korra’s final two seasons, Lincoln Loud’s african best friend Clyde McBride’s married homosexual fathers Howard & Harold on The Loud House as well as the series’ resident rocker Loud sibling Luna being shown to be bisexual due to her not only crushing on Lincoln’s tutor Hugh in “Studly Muffin” but also crushing on her fellow female rock music-loving schoolmate Sam [the 4th Nickelodeon character with that name, following Clarissa Darling’s best friend on Clarissa Explains It All who always visits her by climbing a ladder up to her upstairs bedroom window as a faint guitar twang is heard as he enters, Danny Fenton/Danny Phantom’s vegan goth girlfriend Sam Manson on Danny Phantom & feisty blond tomboy tsundere Sam Puckett on Dan Schneider’s live-action web-series sitcom I-Carly also starring Miranda Cosgrove as the titular Carly for whom the series was first designed as a star vehicle for in regards to Miranda Cosgrove’s ultimately flopped musical career before Sam’s actress Jeanette McCurdy was pegged to costar in a spin-off alongside Victorious star Victoria Justice’s bubbly bestie Cat titled Sam & Cat that didn’t last too long] who’s another blond girl – this time animated with a magenta hair clip to keep her long blond locks in place – who’s typically drawn wearing a light blue jacket with various logos on it along with standard shorts, socks & sneakers).

    It’s a cartoon. Plus, the whole mini-adventure of getting on a plane from San Lorenzo & heading back home to Hillwood is a modern equivalent to movies like Homeward Bound & TV series like Lassie, where domestic pets (in these cases, a labrador, a mutt, and a sassy feline or a border collie known for rescuing her humans from peril) are able to get back from wherever they were back to their civilized home. What’s more, considering the whole thing was imagined by Arnold’s pet pig Abner (whose being owned by Arnold & being named Abner is a call back to the Zaza Gabor sitcom Green Acres, as the titular down-home farmer with the ex-Hollywood fashionista wife was either named Abner himself or had a close friend by that name & the family’s pet pig was consequently named Arnold) & even Arnold’s senile & demented grandparents “Steely” Phil – short for Philip – and Gertie – short for Gertrude – alias “Pookie” didn’t seem to buy into Abner’s recounting of events, even if it’s odd enough that Gertie can understand pig-speak.
    Most likely the explosion was caused from the ruckus of the fighting between La Sombra’s armed goons, Olga & Helga’s parents, Arnold’s grandparents, and a loose Curly who had freed all of the jungle wildlife that La Sombra’s crew had captured to prevent them from going after the villains or anything else that trespassed on their jungle territory.
    They explained how the adults in the village, including Miles & Stella, Arnold parents who came up with the cure for the sleeping sickness, cared for the many Green-Eye children & it was explained how all of the adults, including Miles & Stella when they ran out of the cure’s ingredients, fell under the spell of the sleeping sickness that would’ve likely claimed them forever if they didn’t have the Curazon & the Heart of Gold to keep the contraption that administered the cure running. Without the Heart of Gold, which toppled over the thundering falls in a scuffle with La Sombra, Arnold, Eduardo, Helga, and Gerald thought that Arnold’s parents, like the rest of the adult Green-Eyes, would be lost forever to the sleeping sickness, thus leaving a village of children no longer being properly cared for & Arnold without his humanitarian parents. But, when a selfless Helga placed her locket into the space where the Heart of Gold was to be & both it and the Curazon began to work their magic, the adult Green-Eyes & Arnold’s parents awoke. As for how the Green-Eyed children sustained themselves once their parents & both Miles & Stella fell asleep, one could safely assume that they survived using local jungle skills ala man-cub Mowgli from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, given that he was raised by the local animals before stumbling across the Man-Village of his future betrothed Shanti, as well as living without adult supervision like the children who flew to Neverland from author James Barrie’s Peter Pan.

    • Woah! Thank you for filling in the blanks. Especially when it came to Mr. Simmons. Also for answering some of the things that didn’t click for me.

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